What You Can Expect for First-Time DUI Charges

First-Time DUI Offenders

First-time DUI offenders are commonly under the impression that they will receive lenient punishments. However, this just isn’t the case. A DUI conviction carries more consequences than just jail time or monetary penalties.

Driving under the influence endangers your life and the lives of other road users. That is why a prosecution team analyzes issues surrounding your drunk driving or DUI arrest. They do so to try and convince the judge you deserve harsher punishment.

It is up to an experienced DUI lawyer to convince the judge that you do not deserve the maximum punishment as a first offender.

This article answers your questions about first-time DUI offenses, the penalties you may face and what to expect throughout the process.

What Happens When You Commit a First DUI Offense?

If a police officer pulls you over on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you may be asked to take field sobriety tests, a breathalyzer test, and/or a blood test to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC). You will be arrested if your blood alcohol content exceeds the legal limit of .08 for most people or if the officer has other reasons to believe you are not safe to drive due to impairment.  Please note, you are not required to submit to any of these tests.  It is your right to refuse any or all of these offered tests.

The first time you commit an offense, you may feel confused and anxious, which is normal. If you do not understand what is happening or what to do, you should not panic or resist arrest. Don’t forget that you have the right to remain silent and to be represented by an attorney.

Even if you have never been arrested for DUI before, it does not mean that the judge or prosecutor will be lenient toward you. First-time DUIs are typically misdemeanor offenses and are punishable by fines, probation, or less than one year in jail. Nevertheless, there are some factors that can lead to a prosecutor treating a first-time DUI offense seriously:

  • If you were transporting a minor
  • If someone got a serious injury or died due to your driving under the influence
  • If your DUI incident led to damage or destruction of property

All these factors determine the leniency or severity of your punishment. The prosecution will use these details to convince a judge that while behind the wheel, you endangered the lives of other road users. That is why it’s essential to hire a seasoned legal professional.

Your attorney is also responsible for disproving the prosecution’s case or convincing the judge to show mercy. A good lawyer will also be able to present you in a different light than the one in which the prosecutors are portraying you.

First-Time DUI Penalties

Unless the prosecution has pressed additional charges against you, it is unlikely that you will face harsh punishment for a first-time DUI conviction. Here are the most common punishments:

  • Jail time of up to one year
  • Payment of fines ranging between $300 and $1,000
  • Up to one year’s suspension of license
  • Community service of 40 hours (mandatory minimum)
  • A drug and alcohol abuse evaluation along with recommended treatment
  • Taking a DDS approved DUI risk reduction class
  • Refraining from the use of alcohol and drugs for the duration of your probation

The penalties for DUI can be reduced with the help of a seasoned Athens criminal defense attorney, but some punishments are mandatory.

The Opportunity Costs of Driving While Intoxicated

A DUI conviction has consequences that go beyond the legal punishments. A DUI record stays on your criminal record for life and cannot be expunged.

During background checks, prospective employers, property owners, and even educational institutions can see this conviction. As a result, you would encounter challenges in pursuing your career, enrolling in higher education or vocational courses, or even renting a house. Additionally, insurance companies may access this information, resulting in higher car insurance rates.

How Can Swingle Levin LLC Help You if You Are Facing a First Drunk Driving Arrest?

There are several ways in which a criminal record can affect your future. You can fight the first DUI charge before it goes on your record. Having an experienced DUI lawyer on your side can give you a fighting chance to keep your record clean.

Swingle Levin LLC has worked with many clients who were facing DUI cases. Our attorneys will gather evidence and prepare counter-arguments for the prosecutors’ arguments. Depending on the nature of your criminal defense case, our legal team will use a variety of motions to protect you.

If you choose to fight a DUI charge, you don’t have to fight alone. Swingle Levin LLC is here to offer you an aggressive representation. Our goal is to close your case as soon as possible while achieving the best possible outcome for you. Make an appointment with one of our devoted attorneys today.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does a First-Offense DUI Always Result in Jail Time?

Technically, a first-time DUI conviction must result in at least 24 hours in jail.  However, we are often able to credit the time of your initial incarceration for the DUI to count as or count toward the 24 hours.

How Can I Get My First DUI Charge Reduced to a Lesser Charge?

Creating reasonable doubt about the validity of the evidence against you will weaken the case against you, which may result in the prosecutor reducing your first DUI charge. DUI defenses include:

  • Questions about the validity of the breathalyzer test
  • The arresting officer failed to properly advise you of various rights
  • The field sobriety test results are questionable
  • Your blood alcohol level was below the legal limit
  • The blood alcohol tests were improperly obtained
  • If it’s unclear that you were actually driving at the time of intoxication